In the latest issue of The Washington Quarterly, Ely Ratner, an Associate Political Scientist at RAND, asserts that one of the consequences of China's rapid rise in global influence will be increasingly complicated and difficult security challenges for the Chinese state. Ratner believes that most Western analysts who study China's future influence on global security have failed to take these challenges into account.
Ratner contends that the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party has made a thorough study of the lessons learned from the experiences of other rising powers in history. He claims that China's foreign policy is attempting to avoid the errors made by these powers. However, Ratner asserts that China's expanding commercial and political connections throughout the world, an unavoidable consequence of China's need for raw materials and export markets, will lead to clashes with states and non-state actors that will acquire grievances against China's decisions, methods, and actions. In addition, China's eagerness to transact with authoritarian regimes otherwise shunned by the West may lead to surprisingly large "blowback" directed against Beijing.
It is highly likely that China will find itself using the same tools -- covert action, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, proxy wars, third-party counterinsurgency, etc. -- that other past global powers have used to defend their interests in quasi-colonial situations. Ratner recommends that U.S. policymakers take this estimate of China's future security difficulties into account when formulating their own strategies, to including cooperation with China when security interests with the United States overlap.
Click here to read this interesting paper.